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Thursday Challenge Interviews...

Sandra Rocha (Flying Shark)

Here is a photo from Sandra to start us off...

Sandra told me: "I was really happy about this one, because it turned out exactly how I wanted, dark deep tones and a light able to capture the details of the veins in the flowers. Was also pleased that this didn't need Photoshop at all, I always aim for that, no guilt or prejudice about using it (I do use it) but I like to get the best right on the spot."

red flowers

You mention 'wilderness' on your web site Sandra. What makes a place a wilderness to you? Are there different kinds of wilderness? What is important about them? How do they make you feel?

I use the term wilderness in the strict sense, that is, untouched by Man. Maybe because of my African youth, I love the wide open spaces and the freedom they represent, I'm not a city person at all. That kind of wilderness is really hard to find these days, specially in a small country like Portugal, and that's what makes them so special. I found them in the plains of Africa and the American west, where we can walk for hours and not see another human being. Those places move me deeply because that's my reaction to sheer beauty, I tend to cry when I'm happy. I try everyday to make others see that beauty and learn to preserve it but it's not easy when you're more interested in making money out of them.

Could you give us an example of a wild place anywhere in the world that you would like to photograph if you had unlimited time and resources? How long would you plan to stay? What would you bring with you? What would you like to photograph?

Has to be in Africa! Namibia, caught between the desert and the Atlantic would be perfect, I love the extremes, both in life and in photography. Nature shots would be obvious (after all it is my area of interest outside photography) but the tribes of the desert would provide perfect portraits of a unique way of life and that freedom I appreciate so much. On the coast I could even get lucky and shoot a flying shark! What would I take? a 4x4 vehicle, strong boots (I'm terrified of snakes) and food supplies. One thing I would put aside would be a map, I hate to make plans, rather follow my nose and see were I end up. Of course I would need plenty of storage space for my images, I always take a lot of shots of a subject that catches my eye, looking for that special angle or light. Wouldn't worry a lot with extra lenses, filters or tripods, the perfect shot doesn't need all that much, if you're paying attention to what's around you. Company? My dog, he doesn't nag about being lost or how long until we head back home, he loves the wilderness as much as I do. For that kind of travel you always need plenty of time, since you're not sure of the route you're taking and you stop a lot along the way, so would have to be there for at least 3 weeks.

Please tell us, from a photographic light point of view, about some special places in Lisbon?

Not just me saying that Lisbon has a very special light and sky, so those would boost up any kind of image but there's more. Between the old neighborhoods, with the narrow winding cobblestone streets, and the modern areas by the river from the Expo 98 grounds, there's something to everybody. A personal favorite of mine is the bridge, almost exactly like the Golden Gate, and the whole area by the river. If you're not a shy approaching people on the street, you'll have endless photo ops. You see people on the street at any time of day, the outdoors cafés are always hip and everybody is really friendly (ask anybody who came here for the Euro 2004).

What is your favorite (non domestic) animal? Why?

The answer to that is fairly obvious, if you look at my blog's title: the great white shark. As a biologist, I know a lot about them and I'm always amazed their strength and and intelligence. These are not the dumb killing machines we saw on "shark" but beautiful perfectly adapted animals, crucial to the equilibrium of the ocean. They are a symbol of that untouched, wild, untamed nature I love. The shark is totally real, its actions are not influenced by what is proper or by the opinion of others, its always fair (even if in a somewhat ruthless way) and doesn't have petty hates. I sometimes get surprised looks when I say this, I can imagine people going "My God, you admire them!", like in "Alien" ;-) Well, I do.

If you have one (or more) favorite historical or contemporary photographer, tell us who it is and why you like that photographer's work or style?

I really like the work of Joel Santos http://www.joelsantos.net/, mainly because of the way he captures light and color in his shots. As an true amateur photographer, I didn't have the habit of checking out "real" photographer's work until I started my photoblog. From there on I found a lot of web communities based on photography and I started to discover other people's work. I like to see it but, if that makes any sense, I also try to stay away from it, since finding an original point of view on the subject is what I like best in photography. I don't enjoy a particular style, and I don't have one, a style makes a shot predictable and that's about the worse thing that can happen in my view. Originality is a key feature of photography for me. I feel about photography what I feel about music: I like songs, don't really worry about a particular band ;-)

Here are a few more images from Sandra...


Sandra's comment: "The light is the key to this shot and not all of it is natural. Its hard to get the perfect light and in this case I darkened the body of the animal, leaving an aura of light on the contours to emphasize the effect I was looking for while shooting. I love deep shadows, marked silhouettes and moody atmospheres in my photos, I always try to capture them in my photos."


Sandra said: "Once more, I went for the atmosphere here. This was shot against one of those amazing blue skies of Lisbon (this is on the old Expo 98 grounds) but I see those everyday here so went for something more futuristic. Contrast and monotone coloring on Photoshop did just that. had to adjust the curve to avoid loosing too much detail on the dark tones."

To see and read more visit Sandra Rocha (Flying Shark).

Note: All images are copyright the photographer.